This past Sunday we celebrated Christmas with my side of the family. Due to the crazy schedules of some of my brothers, it’s always easier to get together early in December than try to celebrate later in the month.

The party was held at my dad and his wife’s house, and the whole family was in attendance. My family, my mom and her boyfriend, my three brothers, and my foster sister and her husband. It was great seeing everyone again (some I only see once a year). But in the middle of the party, I was struck by how much of my frugality seems to be hereditary. And how little our frugality affected the good time we had.

Over the course of the party, I noticed several frugal things:

  • Family members bringing contributions to the meal. My dad & his wife did a lot, but they didn’t feel they had to do it all themselves.
  • Aunts & Uncles going in together to buy gifts. This results in less financial stress for the giver and less stuff to manage for the recipient.
  • Re-gifting. Yes, it was a perfect gift for the couple that received it, and yes, my family talked about it openly. We laughed about our frugality.
  • Cheap, fun gifts. Lottery tickets were big for the adults this year. I don’t think any of us regularly play the lottery, but for some reason it’s fun to get 13 people together, all scratching tickets to see who wins. It’s not about the potential winnings. It’s about the experience of ribbing the person next to you, as they see if they uncover a third $200 for the win.

Days later, everyone is still talking about how fun the party was. But nobody is really talking about gifts we received or expensive decorations.

Instead, we’re talking about watching my brothers try to feed the bull that lives on the other side of my dad’s fence, the stocking joke we play on my dad every year, and the way Uncle Alex talked Mario Kart Wii strategy with my son.

The bottom line is that a good Christmas party is all about relationships. Will my kids remember every gift they received at the party? Probably not. Will they remember that their older relatives got down on their level to discuss things important to the kids? Absolutely!

Will I remember everything I ate? Nope (though I probably will remember that the food was good and I ate too much!). Will I remember the good natured joking that goes on every time my family gets together? For a lifetime!

So if you’re stressing about an upcoming Christmas party, or you’re hesitating to invite people over, because your house isn’t perfect, please don’t! Remember that celebrations are all about people, not things. Focus on making people feel comfortable, and your party will be a success!

Photo: Lynnae’s family.